Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sacre Couer, Montemarte, Moulin Rouge and Bailey turns 17!!!!

Oh my goodness my boy Bailey is 17!!!! I can't believe he is the same age I was when I had him-this means I've been a parent for half of my life...Its without a doubt the best half of my life. I wouldn't change it for the world, and I got to celebrate my eldest child turning 17 in the most beautiful city of Paris-how wonderful!

After having some very tired children with very tired legs we decided to brave the Paris Metro today. Bailey had chosen to visit the Paris Catacombs so we headed onto the metro from Chatalet to Denfert Rochereau, it was all very straight forward and we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves until we got outside the station and saw the queue for the catacombs that is! I was all for getting lunch-it was 12 by this time-and waiting in the queue but birthday boy decided he did not want to wait...So after navigating the metro ticket machines we managed to work out the stop at Montemarte so we could go and see the Sacre-Coeur. Coming out of the station at Chateau Rouge was a bit overwhelming and chaotic to be honest, the area was so different to the very touristy parts of Paris we had visited so far. But we navigated our way through the busy streets and found a very nice Patisserie and I managed to order six fresh cream cakes and two baguettes in French-thankfully I can apologise in French pretty well too!

We then headed off up the very steep hill and steps to the church.

We stopped just below the church to eat our cakes, here is the birthday boy with his chosen millefeuille...they were delicious by the way!

Cordelia also went for the millefeuille, Piper chose a chocolate éclair and Ruben a chocolate brioche. We were all a bit transfixed with both the view and the sellers of fake bags and mini Eiffel towers..

The beautiful Sacre-Coeur (its called the self-cleaning church because of the limestone its made of, when it rains it produces a chemical reaction which bleaches the outside of the church!)

No photos inside unfortunately but it was very beautiful, I'd like to say it was very quiet too as you were supposed to be there in silence but then there are these huge coin machines, the kind that you have in lots of museums now where you can buy a memorable coin? Was a bit like Vegas with several noisy machines in an otherwise very quiet place. A little bit surreal....

There was a funny moment when we got to the bottom of the church stairs and a police patrol car drove past, all the street sellers (that were pretty rife around all of Paris selling fake bags and mini Eiffel towers) grabbed their sheets (which had all their stock on) and bombed down the stairs. The noise of 100's of mini Eiffel towers clattering together and the large crowd moving out of the way to let them pass was quite a scene....

The view is pretty amazing from this high up, in the distance on this photo you can see Gare Du Nord-a big train station, the business area around Paris, we could even see the huge square of La Defense which we saw from the Arch Du Triumph, Notre Dame but no Eiffel Tower in the distance as it was too far to the right!

The back of the church, there was even a French lady singing-reminded me of Edith Piaf!! Amazing ambience...

The fantastic area of Montemarte, lots of narrow streets, lovely little gift shops and cafes-full of tourists. It just started to rain but thankfully it was only very light...

Connections everywhere, this time in the form of Van Gogh's painting of the church which was featured in a Dr Who episode (which we had just happened to watch recently!) Van Gogh lived here for a while so there was a pretty big display on this wall of his work and some information about him.

Ruben asked what would happen if there was an earthquake here outside this beautiful ceramic shop...told him it was highly unlikely!

Saw this in the guidebook and it looked so pretty...

I'm sure this house had a connection to Napoleon but I can't remember where I read that now so I may have gotten my wires crossed...it was still a lovely house....

We found a little playground that was also advertising free wifi and toilets so we had a little break and a sit down. Sadly the toilets were closed and there didn't seem to be any wifi available. Still Rube was happy to have a little play and found it rather funny that his legs were nearly as long as the climbing wall itself!

The Moulin de la Galette which was built in 1604 and inspired the 1866 Renoir painting! I love windmills so was really excited to see this, it was quite tucked away behind houses/trees.

The famous Moulin Rouge, I would have so loved to go inside and see a show here and Hubby has promised we shall come back and do just that when it is the two of us! I am a huge fan of the 2001 film and if Ruben had been born a girl the name at the top of our list was Satine...It was so funny as we were just taking a photo, a guy came out and started re painting the windmill, over the graffiti!

We found a Starbucks over the road and spent some time sat in there having a coffee, using the toilets and working out where to go to next. Cordelia started with a sore throat and everyone was so tired from so much walking so we headed to the nearest metro station and headed to the area near the Bastille to try and get something to eat.

So many stunning buildings, this one which I think was the national archives was hidden behind two massive wooden gates:

The Bastille used to be a notorious prison but is no longer there. There is a very modern  opera house:

And the grand Colonne de Juillet or the July Column which was erected in the 19th century to honour victims of both revolutions. The golden statue on the top represents "liberty"

We managed to find some food for Ruben-a pizza slice nearly as big as his face!! Its funny that in France they don't have the same kind of street food/junk food type of shop. Its very much cafes and bistros, which I think if there is just the two of you must be lovely but not when there is 6 of you to feed, it can get rather expensive. They do have McDonalds but we had already had one on our first day here so no one was keen to eat it again so soon. We managed to get the girls some pain au chocolat from a little supermarket.

And then we finally found what we were heading here for! The Baby The Stars Shine Bright Lolita shop. This is the nearest shop to us that sells brand Lolita clothing so it was #1 on top of Ppippi's list to see. The clothes inside are really gorgeous but also really expensive! A dress costs around 400 euros...None the less Piper was so happy to be in there and see all the things she has spent ages looking at on the Japanese website.

She had a little bit of money so she did buy some over the knee socks which are really cute, not the cheapest at 26 euros but it was worth it to see how much effort went into the wrapping of them. I'd definitely give it 10 out of 10 for customer services, the guy there even bowed to Piper when he presented her with the bag!! I thought Piper might actually faint from the excitement....

She didn't open the bag until we were home and she could take photographs, here they are!

So glad we managed to fit in a visit to the shop for Piper because despite our plans for anther day in Paris we had a bad night with Cordelia and ended up having to book an earlier tunnel crossing. She was pretty sick all the way back up through France so we definitely made the right decision. I still can't believe how much we fit in to the three days we had in Paris. I knew I would love it there but it was even more amazing than I had ever imagined and I can't wait to go back and see more of it!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Finally...The Eiffel Tower (and Les Invalides..)

Resuming my Paris posts, had a bit of a week so no chance to blog......

Anyway, after our fantastic walk down the Champs D' Elysees we headed down towards the tower, we headed to the beautiful (and very symmetrical!) Palais De Chaillot, we walked through the middle of both buildings, past beautiful golden statues and there it was-the Eiffel Tower!!!!!! I actually felt really emotional seeing it, good job I was wearing my sunglasses to hide the tears! We only booked this holiday four weeks before we went but I have being wanting to visit Paris for many years and seeing the tower just made me feel "We are really in Paris".  

The symmetry in Paris is amazing, it is so beautifully and perfectly planned out, its like the city has been planned with a protractor and a ruler. Just when you think you have seen so many beautiful buildings around the corner is more too look at! The Jardin Du Trocadero, which is right before the bridge where the tower is, is really stunning, We took advantage of the cool fountains and dipped out very hot, tired feet in. Except for Ruben who actually went in up to his waist! 

It was so hot we took some shade in the park/playground area and ate our baguettes, how is that for a view?........

Bailey and Ruben took five minutes to take some photos of the lego minifigures which the tower in the background:

We then walked over the bridge to stand under the tower! I really wanted to go up but by this point everyone was tired and hot, the queues were pretty long too. And I think it was even bigger than any of us had imagined so some of us that are not fans of heights really didn't fancy it. Putting it on my ever increasing list of things to do next time.....

You can see right up to the bottom of the second floor, the glass floor really puts me about I have to say, I would not be standing on that...

Its such a beautiful structure up close. I think I could sit here and look at it all day!

But we didn't! We headed back through Champs De Mars to the Wall of Peace. There was nothing in the guidebook about the wall of peace but I had read about it somewhere else (forget where!) unfortunately, it had been vandalised, the glass had been smashed, it was overgrown and covered in weeds and had mesh fencing all around. It looked a really sorry state and it was such a shame because it lines the tower up perfectly for photos!

Onwards with some very tired, hot and bothered boys!

Past the Ecole Militaire,

Then on to the beautiful Les Invalides, I love how the sun is gleaming of the gold top..

It was just closing for the day, I'd love to go inside and see Napoleon's tomb...next time!

This is the other side of Les Invalides! Its a pretty impressive building.....

Walking back to Auber train station past the beautiful Ste Marie Madeleine Church, which had flowers covering the steps......

Not sure I've ever done three posts about one day before?! But when you are covering so much distance and seeing so many beautiful, beautiful buildings its hard to resist taking so many photographs!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Paris Day 2 part 2- Champs Elysees and Arch De Triumph

This was opposite the Petit Palais and is the Grand Palais, it seems to be a rather large exhibition space as there were lots of different exhibits including an American art exhibit and also one of Jean-Paul Gaultier.

It had some pretty huge statues on the roof which Cordelia got some good photographs of:

She particularly loved the horses..

We managed to find the flagship Chanel shop just off the Champs De Elysees-it was so cool, I think I may have even started Piper off with an interest in Chanel which is not a bad thing. She has promised to bring me back one day when she is a famous fashion designer and buy me a much coveted Chanel 2.55 bag in quilted grey. You read that here first so I'm holding her to it ;) We had a great chat about Couture fashion, Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfield. Must watch the film about Coco Chanel with her, think she would really love it.

Walking up the Champ De Elysees was such an experience-the money!! Oh my! We saw so many sights but I think my favourite was a restaurant where the waiters wore stripey blue and white tops, berets and blue cropped trousers-tres chic! wish I'd managed to get a photo but not sure they would have appreciated that too much.. was so funny to walk past all the exclusive shops with queues outside, body guards dressed in expensive suits, staff waiting to park your car for you in their posh uniforms and hats to then see the guy on the outside of Abercrombie and Fitch wearing joggers, a t-shirt and flip flops!!

Cordelia took these very arty looking shots of the Arch De Triumph, we sat on a wall in the shade for a while looking over at the crazy traffic whilst Hubby explained that all French car insurance policies have an exempt for the area around Arch De Triumph and its really not hard to see why. It is manic but fascinating to watch! We headed over the road to then take the underground tunnel to the Arch itself. It was so busy with people queuing to go up to the top. Must be a fab view from there.

The grave of an unknown soldier which has a flame lit at all times:

Its so hard to get any photos without other people in, we saw so many different photo shoots with models-especially people in wedding dresses/suits. We did think about taking our vow renewal clothes since Cordelia took some beautiful photographs of us at Rufford Abbey in December after the Vow Renewal but think it would have been too stressful, maybe next time though because I think it would make for some awesome photographs! In this photo you can see right down to La Defense (the huge square you can just see) and the business area of Paris.

The light was so bright, everyone wished they had taken sunglasses which is why Ruben has his eyes shut in this photo lol!The arch was so much bigger than we had imagined. It looked big when we were across the road but it felt even bigger when we were stood in front of it. And the noise from the beeping traffic was so loud!! Quite an experience to be stood there, I'd love to come and see it lit up at night so maybe we'll have to do a winter trip

Leaving here we found a small supermarket for iced coffee and more importantly ice creams for the pesky hobbits-we were on a budget so buying a four pack of ice creams is much cheaper than going to an ice cream stand, its something we do a lot here in the UK and thankfully we have the perfect amount of children for a box of ice creams!!